We are home now, and almost completely acclimated to our CST zone. We again appreciated your prayers.
Thanks, too, for being such troopers in keeping up with my wordy blog. I assure you that I have left many things unsaid, due to lack of time. I finally realized four days into our trip, that I could blog on the bus as we left each spot, so that I didn't have an hour's worth of work waiting for me after dinner, which tended to start around 8pm. Then there was the issue of purchasing a wireless connection and fitting all I had to do in a short amount of time. It was truly a labour of love...hopefully better than any trinket I could bring home to you!
Due to very little sleep (most days we had to be up at 6am, with our bags packed and outside our hotel room door at 6:45am, at which time we would head down to breakfast), and lack of time to gather my thoughts properly, I would leave pertinent information out, or express myself incorrectly.
Such was the case with my last entry. I entitled it as I did above, because I saw it as a contradiction of terms. Being Jewish is not, and never has been a reason to be happy in the secular realm. They have been persecuted throughout their history as a nation from all sides. And even as we made our way safely through the streets and roads of Israel, we noticed fences, barbed wire and soldiers, (male and female), everywhere we went. The country is surrounded on all sides (except the Mediterranean), with hostility and border tension. From the Gaza strip in the south, to the Golan Heights in the north, and the West Bank, this tiny country interacts with those who not only refuse to acknowledge them as a people or a country, but actively prevent them from uncovering any indication of their roots. Even the Temple Mount, within the old city walls, their most precious piece of property and connection with their God throughout history, is "owned" by the Muslims. Not my idea of a happy situation!
But spiritually speaking, they are the most blessed on earth. God is for them, and He has promised blessing to not only the nation of Israel itself, but to all those who help them (Genesis 12). The nation itself will be a blessing to the entire earth, because out of it, over 2,000 years ago, came the Messiah, Jesus Christ...Savior of the world!
Of course, the promise comes with a caveat. Only obedience to God and His Word can bring about that blessing. We also know from Scripture, that there will be a remnant of Jews that will be faithful to the Covenant. In the end, God will fight for them, and they will win! If you don't have time to read the exciting end times story in full, read Revelation 19-22...you will be glad you did. All those who are faithful to Jesus Christ, from every nation, will experience this new heaven and earth for themselves.
Despite the hostilities around them, I saw a nation that was orderly and peaceful, but prepared. Orthodox children were abundant, everywhere we went, and they laughed and played. Their numbers are growing. We saw fields of palm, date, olive and banana trees, along with other crops. Life was evident everywhere...even small plants grew within the crevice of rocks.
Ezekiel 36:7-11 describes this perfectly: "Therefore says the Lord God: Behold, I have raised my hand in an oath that surely the nations that are around you will bear their shame. But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to my people Israel, for they are about to come. For indeed, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown. I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, all of it, and the cities shall be inhabited, and the ruins rebuilt. I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bear young; I will make you inhabited as in former times, and do better for you than at your beginnings. Then you shall know that I am the Lord."
We are so thankful for the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the Israelites as they headed for the Promised Land, and then slip into Jesus' sandals, to follow His path of ministry that lead to the cross.
to access this up to the minute and historical look into Israel and the Middle East events.
Another website is: www.cityofdavid.org. Great if you are interested in the history and archaeology of the original Jerusalem in the time of King David. Very professionally done, and of course, with a Jewish flavor!